Unique Panthers scoring plays excite on tough night

CHARLOTTE -- The Panthers ultimately suffered the low of another close loss, but along the way they enjoyed a couple of high-energy moments that now have their own pages in the history books.

Carolina scored in two ways never before seen in franchise history - courtesy of a touchdown pass by a non-quarterback and a two-point conversion on defense.

The first came in the first quarter on Carolina's second series of the game.

Three plays after a 17-yard completion to wideout Curtis Samuel netted Carolina a 15-yard boost following a roughing the passer penalty, the Panthers faced fourth-and-2 on their own 50.

With the offense in shotgun formation, quarterback Cam Newton handed the ball off to running back Christian McCaffrey. Typically, the idea behind a McCaffrey handoff would be for him to fight his way for a first down.

That was not the case Monday night.

As McCaffrey rushed to his right, he pulled up and threw a pass that seemed to not drop fast enough into the waiting hands of tight end Chris Manhertz. After temporarily serving as a blocker, Manhertz ducked away from the offensive line and created a gap so wide that not even speedy rookie Donte Jackson would be able to cover the ground (more on him shortly). From that point, Manhertz trotted unimpeded into the end zone for his first career touchdown.

Afterwards, Manhertz revealed that the trick play had only recently been in the works.

"It was a play we practiced a few times this week. Given the opportunity, down and distance, I had a good feeling it was going to be caught," he said. "I think it was just a matter of execution. Christian did a good job of running the ball. I just finished it."

Manhertz also added that it "means a lot" that his name was called in that situation.

"It means, from a coaching standpoint, that they trust me and they have faith that we're able to execute this play when it matters the most," he said.

Manhertz's magnificent moment wasn't the only record-setting occurrence in Week 15.

Jackson got in on the action (no pun intended) in the fourth quarter after the Saints took their first lead of the night.

Running back Alvin Kamara took a 16-yard rush to the house to put New Orleans up 12-7 and, instead of going for the PAT, the Saints tried to make it a one-touchdown game by going for two.

What happened next was a testament to the young corner's strong start to his NFL career. I'll allow him to tell it.

"I was able to sit in my zone and kind of read the quarterback's eyes. He was rolling out towards me but not really looking at me," Jackson said. "He threw the ball, and I just made a play on it."

Yes, Jackson indeed made a play, jumping in front of a Drew Brees pass that appeared to be for receiver Michael Thomas and taking it the length of the field for a two-point conversion Carolina's way.

Not only was the speed Jackson displayed on the play absolutely mind-blowing; it was also the first of its kind this season in the NFL.

A one-of-a-kind moment for a one-of-a-kind rookie, who made it clear that, even with his cool displays of athleticism, all he wants to do is win.

"It's tough, man, it's tough," Jackson said on not beating his hometown team. "Like I always say, everybody wants to win in this league. You prepare all week to win. I think the close ones like that, they hurt the worst."

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